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Employee Rights in the Time of Coronavirus

In this increasingly uncertain time, here is information that we hope is helpful to employees who are impacted by the coronavirus.

New Paid Leave for COVID-19

New York State has now guaranteed employees’ job protection and financial compensation if they or a dependent child are required by the government to be quarantined or isolated. These benefits are not available to those who voluntarily self-quarantine or who are able to work through remote access or other means. Paid Family Leave can also be used to care for a family member with a serious health condition. More information can be found here

What Benefits Are You Entitled To Receive Under State Law

If you work for a Small Employer, defined as an employer with 10 or fewer employees as of January 1, 2020, and a business net annual income less than $1 million, you can use a combination of NYS Paid Family Leave and disability benefits. NY Paid Family Leave (PFL) provides up to 60% of your pay, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70. After receiving your full PFL benefit, you will receive disability benefits to match your full wages up to a maximum weekly disability benefit of $2,043.92, for a total of $2,884.62 per week.

If you work for a Medium Employer, defined as an employer with between 11-99 employees as of January 1, 2020, and smaller employers (1-10 employees) with a business net annual income greater than $1 million, you must first use at least five days of paid sick leave, which your employer must provide. After that, you can use a combination of NYS Paid Family Leave and disability benefits. Eligible employees can then use NY Paid Family Leave, which provides up to 60% of your pay, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $840.70. After receiving your full PFL benefit, you will receive disability benefits to match your full wages up to a maximum weekly disability benefit of $2,043.92, for a total of $2,884.62 per week.

If you work for a Large Employer, defined as an employer with 100 or more employees as of January 1, 2020, as well as all public employees, your employer must provide you with at least 14 days of paid sick leave for a COVID-19-related quarantine, which should cover the period of an order of mandatory or precautionary quarantine or isolation.

In all cases, you will have job protection for the duration of the quarantine.

More information can be found here.

What Benefits Are You Entitled To Receive Under Federal Law

The federal government enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), which became law on March 18, 2020. This law requires certain employers to provide their employees with expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Covered employers must provide:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or because a child’s school or care provider is closed due to COVID-19 (which can be extended up to an additional 10 weeks).

More information can be found here.

All Non-Essential Businesses Ordered to Close

As of 8:00 pm on March 22, 2020, New York State now requires that 100% of the workforce must stay home. This excludes “essential services,” which Executive Order 202.6 defines as

  1. Essential Health Care Operations, including hospitals, walk-in health care facilities, nursing homes, emergency doctor and dental facilities and medical supply companies.
  2. Essential Infrastructure, including utilities, public water, telecommunications, transportation and hotels.
  3. Essential Manufacturing, including food manufacturing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, household paper products.
  4. Essential Retail, including: all grocery and beverage stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, gas stations, hardware stores and restaurant/bars (take out/delivery only)
  5. Essential Services, including: trash and recycling, mail, laundromats, building cleaning and maintenance, funeral homes, child care, auto repair, animal shelters.
  6. News Media
  7. Financial Institutions, including banks, insurance, payroll, services related to financial markets.
  8. Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations, including homeless shelters, food banks, shelters and residential facilities.
  9. Construction, including electricians, plumbers and emergency repair.
  10. Defense, including the federal government and contractors to the federal government.
  11. Essential Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses, including law enforcement, fire prevention, building code enforcement, building cleaners and automotive repair.
  12. Vendors that Provide Essential Services or Products, Including Logistics and Technology Support, Child Care and Services, including technology support for online services, child care programs and essential government services.

More information, including instructions on how to apply for these benefits, can be found here and here.

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